The U.S. airline pilot who saved 155 passengers and crew by landing an airliner in New York City's Hudson River said his first sign of trouble was when he saw a flock of large birds through the windshield of his Airbus.

Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger said in an interview broadcast Sunday on the CBS 60 Minutes program, he then felt and heard evidence that the birds had flown into and damaged the airliner's engines.

The airliner had just departed New York's La Guardia airport on January 15.

Sullenberger said he quickly concluded his plane had lost thrust in both its engines and the flight was unlikely to end with the airplane undamaged on the runway.

As the plane glided toward the water he tried unsuccessfully to restart its engines. Sullenberger said he forced himself to use his training and to force calm on the situation.

Sullenberger said after the plane came to rest in the river, he and the copilot looked at each other and remarked that the water landing wasn't as bad as they thought it would be.

After the successful water landing, Sullenberger became a celebrity. President Obama invited him to attend the inauguration. He was honored by a celebration in his California home town. And he received many letters from people thankful for his display of airmanship.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.